Mental health therapists are trained professionals who counsel individuals, families, and groups to treat mental and emotional disorders. These professionals help their patients deal with stress, substance abuse, addictions, low self-esteem and grief. Some of them even specialize as marriage counselors and career counselors. These professionals work with other mental health specialists like psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, and school counselors in promoting emotional and mental health of their patients.
Mental Health Therapist Job Description
Mental health therapists work though observation, interviews, and tests, to get information about patients. Based on their observation they decide the right type of treatment for the patient. They listen and talk to their clients to understand their problems. These professionals counsel their clients and help them make informed decisions about themselves, their lives, and relationships. They help their patients to analyze their problems and make informed decisions about themselves that would help them deal with the problem. They make use of a number of therapeutic measures to address issues and carry out mental health evaluation and risk assessment of their patients as and when required. Mental health therapists monitor the treatment of their patients by maintaining accurate records and documents. These documents can be used by other professionals for further treatment of the individual. To carry out these functions, a mental health therapist can schedule client appointments with their clients, either at home or in the hospitals or at treatment facilities.
Becoming a Mental Health Therapist
Mental health therapy is a holistic approach that takes into account a person’s external and societal influences, while also considering his physical and emotional health. To fulfill mental health therapist requirements, one first needs to get a master’s degree in mental health counseling with a certification or license in a specialty like:
Educational, school or career counseling
Marriage and family counseling
Substance abuse counseling
Most of the master’s degrees are a two year program. One will also require to complete an internship during this period, working with people, and gaining hands-on experience in the field. For better career opportunities, a doctoral degree in mental health counseling or related field should be obtained.
Choosing the Right Mental Health Therapist
Mental health problems often stem from deeply personal and often painful episodes. Due to such a personal nature of the problem, it is very important that one is careful while looking for the right mental health therapist. The first step towards finding one is to rule out the possibility of a mental condition that may produce symptoms like loss of appetite or fatigue that may be mistaken to be caused due to depression. Refer to your physician first to confirm that the symptoms are not caused due to a medical problem. Getting referrals will be a great help in finding the best mental health therapist for you. Ask your friends, family members, or even co-workers for reference. Your physician could also give valuable information in this regard. After all this has been taken care of, finding out which mental health conditions are covered under your insurance would be a wise decision. While you consider a mental health therapist, be sure to check his certification. Also confirm if he has relevant experience in treating people with problems similar to yours. If you are satisfied with the findings, fix a date and appointment with the therapist.
According to a survey done by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, in 2007 the median salary that mental health counselors earned was $36,000. The highest earnings are made by those who are self-employed and work in well established practices. It takes almost 5 years for mental health therapists to develop a private practice after getting a license.